The SA Schools Football Association (SASFA) is on a drive to boost the number of schools that will play in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup competition this year, and the Eastern Cape coordinator is expecting numbers to increase over 220.
Traditionally schools focus on Athletics in the first term which has resulted in them being under pressure to get their soccer teams ready for the Danone Nations Cup as it was played earlier in the year to accommodate the world final.
This year there is more time as the 2018 World Finals will only be taking place next year, together with the 2019 World Finals, in celebration of Danone’s Centenary Anniversary.
This was good news for coach Masixole Goli from Charles Morgan Primary School of King William’s Town in the Amathole region.
The school has been entering the tournament since 2012 and managed to get into the provincial finals in 2013, but they have not managed to achieve this success since. In an attempt to change their fortunes Goli made the decision not to enter the tournament last year but rather send the kids to local clubs in the King Williams Town where they could get better coaching throughout the year. “In preparation for 2018 I decided that the kids needed to play soccer throughout the year as opposed to just playing the sport in term two. In this way they will get first class coaching and more match practice as they participate in the local leagues.”
Goli sat on the side lines last year as an observer. “I have no coaching qualifications and learnt a lot from watching the professional coaches. Now I am starting to get our school squad together and to begin practicing. I believe we have a much better chance this year.”
New Horizon Senior School from Bungeni Township in Butterworth has also entered again this year. Siphiwe Nkunkuma, the coach, is an administrator at the school and has noted the difference the tournament makes in the lives of the kids so in 2016 he decided to approach the school and enter a team. “We didn’t make it past the district phase of the tournament, but I have done a lot of research on the internet and I think I am ready for this year.”
But both teams will have to get past Isaac Booi Primary, the 2017 provincial champions. “Playing in the national finals was an eye opener for me,” said coach, Siphiwo Witbooi. “The biggest lesson was that young kids need to be encouraged and their self-esteem needs to be really good to compete in such tournaments,” he said. “Last year the boys went to Gauteng and were completely overawed. They had no confidence going into games. They were not themselves and didn’t play to their full potential.”
The Eastern Cape has produced a national final winner which was back in 2011 when Barkerville Primary won and went on to represent their country at the World Finals in Madrid, finishing 38th out of the 40 teams competing.
Schools can still register for the competition by contacting the national coordinator at the SA Schools Football Association (SASFA), Themba Tshabalala, on 011 403 2844, 084 290 0602 or 072 588 4957. Alternatively, they can visit the Danone Nations Cup South Africa Facebook page or go to www.facebook.com/dncsouthafrica to download the necessary documents. (Documents are always on Danone.co.za also)